Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kip Zeile Has His Moment

Tito McQueen - Cobb Times Herald

Kip Zeile
Age: 31B/T: S/R
Born: Poteau, OK
Position(s): 1B
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Chicago Sabercat Kip Zeile celebrated his greatest moment as a player yesterday when after years of being snubbed by the voters, he was finally awarded the American League MVP with a commanding vote total. Zeile, who made the all star team for the 5th time this season and also won the Silver Slugger award, belted 65 home runs, his highest total in his career. He also knocked in 156 runs, and posted an OPS of 1.039. When asked how he was able to post such impressive power numbers despite his declining skills, Zeile told the Times Herald staff to, "Go **** yourselves and get a real job."

Zeile managed to win the award despite his team not making the playoffs, which he is no doubt used to by this time. Here are some of the highlights of Zeile's career:

Season 2 - Belts 42 HRs, 133 RBI's 21 SB, 1.035 OPS in his rookie season. The Sabercats finish 88-74 and miss the playoffs

Season 4 - 50 HR, 158 RBI, .314 BA, 1.088 OPS, and his first all star appearance. The Sabercats finish a franchise best 92-70 and miss the playoffs.

Season 5 - 63 HR, 174 RBI, and he doesn't get selected for the all star game, and isn't even mentioned in MVP voting. Sabercats finish 80-82 and miss the playoffs.

Season 6 - 59 HR, 162 RBI, and an all star appearance. Loses MVP by two votes to slap hitter Alan Peterson of the Anaheim Sharks. Sabercats finish 73-89 and miss the playoffs.

Season 7 - 58 HR, 146 RBI, an all star appearance. Begins media boycott after accusing the Times Herald of yellow journalism for investigation into rumors about his UFC betting habits and fancy cars. Loses home run derby to Sioux Falls Corn Cleat Vernon Jones in an epic swing off . Sabercats finish 87-75 and miss the playoffs.

Season 10 - 63 HR, 156 RBI, 1.060 OPS, and an all star appearance. Loses MVP voting yet again, this time resulting in a green rampage that destroys much of the area surrounding the press conference. Sabercats finish 81-81 and miss the playoffs.

As can be seen, Zeile has a long history in the league of not only being a great player on an unlucky franchise, but also of being one of the leagues great personalities, albeit an unpersonable one. After all of his years of suffering, the Times Herald would like to salute Kip Zeile on his moment of glory.

Season 12 World Series Preview

Cleveland Steamers (AL, 96-66) vs. Wichita Wankers (NL, 92-70)

Lars picked the Steamers to make the world series out of the American League, but he was totally blindsided by Wichita's run to the title round. One thing Lars does know for certain is that there will be a first time champion in Cobb World, one that has either taken crassly taken a steaming dump upon or jerked around their opponent. Both scenarios make Lars rather queasy, but this is the year of the toilet humor in the Chinese Zodiac, thus the two teams vying for the Cobb World Title. Here is Lars positional breakdown:

Catcher: Walter Maroth for the Steamers is a defensive catcher with just enough stick to keep pitchers honest, and has done a fine job of shepherding the Cleveland pitching staff through the playoffs. Darryl Bates of the Wankers is more of a masher, but is good enough defensively to be average behind the plate. Neither of them are having a playoffs to remember, so Lars is calling this a draw.
Edge: Even

1B: On paper, Nick Weaver of the Steamers and Tanner Durham of the Wankers are pretty even. In reality Durham is having a forgettable playoffs and isn't justifying his play at a power position, while Weaver is hitting above .300 and is once again one of the more dangerous hitters on the Cleveland team. Lars is going with the hot hand.
Edge: Steamers

2B: Cory Lowry of the Steamers is probably the last man in the lineup, and is basically filling a spot. He has decent contact skills at the plate, but hasn't shown them yet in the playoffs. His glove is good though, which keeps him in the lineup. Lawrence Shave for the Wankers is a much more dynamic hitter, and is having a better playoff run than Lowry, even if he is hitting under .300. Lars thinks that Shave brings more to his team than Lowry.
Edge: Wankers

SS: The Steamers know what they are going to get from Paul Roth - Gold Glove defense, and a .280 average with no power. But that's ok, as he has proven himself to be a clutch player in the playoffs, and has raised his average yet again in the postseason to above .350, which is a real bonus for Cleveland. Carlton Nelsons defense for the Wankers is just as good, but his bat is much more dangerous, and he has proven it this playoffs with an average in the .300's and good production. Roth has proven it in the playoffs, but Nelson is proving it now too.
Edge: Wankers

3B: On paper both Brett Mann of the Wankers and Max Posada have roughly the same hitting and fielding capacity, with Mann being the more durable of the two. Neither one is amazing at the plate, but Mann is hitting above .300 in the playoffs while Posadas average is near .200. With similar defense, Lars is going with the hot stick.
Edge: Wankers

LF: Both Grant Keats of the Wankers and Vinny Jang of the Steamers are excellent players. But Jang had a monster regular season while Keats struggled to recover from a disasterous first half. In the playoffs Jang has been an absolute beast, batting over .400 with lots of power, while Keats has struggled. Lars knows who to pick here.
Edge: Steamers

CF: Jose Gandarillas of the Steamers is having an excellent playoffs, batting in the .380 range, which is nothing but clutch. His defense is good as well, and he is one of the top teams in the Cleveland lineup. Dorian Woolf of the Wankers is a CF most teams in Cobb would like to have on their team, but his play at the plate has been less than desirable this playoffs. All things basically being equal between the two players, it is hard not to choose the guy hitting .380 vs. the guy hitting .220.
Edge: Steamers

RF: Al Rosario of the Steamers is a fine young player who can crush right handed pitching. He is having an amazing postseason, hitting near .380 and scoring lots of runs. His counterpart in Wichita, Derrick Crosby, is having a fine playoffs as well, hitting near .360 in the playoffs. But Crosby just isn't the threat that Rosario is.
Edge: Steamers

Bench: Backup C Mule Parker and 2B Willis Roth have gotten some play for the Steamers, platooning at their positions. But neither one is a major threat at the plate, and are strictly defensive replacements. Joel Davis offers some pop off the bench, and Fernando Belliard has a nice glove, but haven't seen a playoff at bat. Tony Solano, the regular DH for Cleveland, offers a nice bat off the bench in the NL stadium. For Wichita 2B Mitch Watkins offers great power, and may start vs. right handers. Justin Snopek is also pretty nice with the bat, and Luis Velasquez is a nice defensive replacement. Wichita's bench has seen more action than Clevelands, but Lars thinks that between the two of them they are pretty much equal.
Edge: Even

Starting Pitching: The Steamers are running a 3 man rotation of Ruben Gonzales, Bill Palmer, and Junior Lee. Gonzales has been his usual amazing playoff self, carrying the rotation for the 3rd season in a row, and Palmer has been money as well. Lee has been hit pretty hard though, and isn't living up to his potential. For Wichita it's been a 3 man show starring NL Cy Young Davey Silva, Tony Cho, and Erubiel Owen. Only Silva is able to stand up head to head with the three Cleveland aces, and his playoffs have been a mixed bag thus far. He has proven that he can bring it when it counts, and the other two pitchers have been able to keep their team in the game. But 3 is more than 1 when it comes to #1 quality pitchers, so Lars is taking the higher sum.
Edge: Steamers

Bullpen: The Steamers boast a pen that includes talented workhorse Trevor Seelbach, who went 16-2 in the regular season out of the long relief position, and pitched an impressive 150 innings. He's been good in the playoffs too, but the starting pitching hasn't warranted his use that much in playoffs thus far. Closer Bruce Weber has been perfect in the post season, and has yet to allow a run or blow a save. Wichita's closer P.T. Randolph is 2 for 2 in saves as well, and the rest of the pen has been solid save for Benny DeLeon, who has had a disasterous playoffs thus far. Top to bottom the quality of the Cleveland pen is a bit better than Wichita's, in Lars opinion.
Edge: Steamers

Conclusion: The lineups are pretty evenly matched, but Cleveland has the better pitching staff. Wichita squeaked into the playoffs as the #6 seed in the NL, while Cleveland took the #1 seed in the AL with a strong regular season. There are two scenarios here, Cleveland could make Cobb history as the first three time loser in the World Series, but Lars thinks that since Omaha isn't here to knock the Steamers around a bit, the second scenario is more likely, that they will finally break through and win their first World Series title, as much as it may disgust the rest of the league.
Result: Cleveland in Six

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Season 12 Playoff Preview - Divisional Round

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

Lars was a miserable one for four in his first round predictions, but is hoping for the stars to align in a much more fortuitous manner this time around. There are some intriguing matchups in the divisional round this season, and Lars has worked extra hard throwing bones and reading tea leaves to determine the outcomes.

American League

#1 Cleveland Steamers (96-66) vs. #5 Boston Freedom (89-73)
Overview: In an event that without doubt disgusted the rest of the American League, the Cleveland Steamers took the #1 overall seed in the American League by dominating the AL East, including their opponent and fellow AL East Rival the Boston Freedom. Eddie Rivers had good success against the Steamers, but as Lars knows Cleveland is a different sort of animal in the playoffs, where they have made the World Series two seasons in a row out of the wildcard spot. Now that they are the #1 seed and defending champion Omaha is no longer around in the playoffs to summarily dispatch them in the championship, Lars is wondering if the Steamers can be stopped. He thinks it's a possibility, but probably not one that any American League team will realize.
Prediction: Cleveland in 4

#2 Pawtucket G-Maniacs (95-67) vs. #6 Mexico City Diablos Rojos (84-78)
Overview: The G-Maniacs won the AL North for the umpteenth time sinc Rip Van Winkle fell asleep, but this time it was not without some drama as they were behind the Chicago Sabercats and Philadelphia Cheese Steaks for nearly 2/3 of the season, until they got hot and surpassed their normally docile division rivals. Mexico City rode some solid pitching and a dose of good luck to upset the playoff savvy Anaheim Sharks in the wildcard round, and if Eric Collins, Geoff Washington, and company can continue their solid play they match up quite well with Pawtucket. Pawtucket will be throwing Dean Hernandez as often as possible as they attempt to get every last dime from their soon to be departing stud SP. Lars likes Dean a lot, and thinks he will carry the G's to another rematch with Cleveland in the next round.
Prediction: Pawtucket in 5

National League

#1 Syracuse Beagles (107-55) vs. #4 Richmond Cohibas (94-68)
Overview: This is a rematch of the playoff series that shocked all of Cobb World last season when the then 75 win Cohibas stunned the 100 win Beagles and nearly drove owner/GM zooeydog to drive his car off a cliff. This season the Cohibas are a much more respectable squad, and took out a very good Corn Cleats team in the opening round, but the Beagles are improved as well. On paper the lineups are about equal and Syracuse has the superior pitching staff, but in a short series anything can happen, as Syracuse can attest. Lars likes the Beagles this year though, revenge is a powerful motivator, and not even the evil SIM can keep Syracuse down forever.
Prediction: Syracuse in 5

#2 Fargo Fug Nuts (103-59) vs. #6 Wichita Wankers (92-70)
Overview: The Fug Nuts rode one of the hottest streaks of the season to just barely capture the NL North and the bye week, winning 20 of 21 games to close the season. Wichita was just as hot, overcoming an absolutely brutal spot to claim the last wildcard spot, and took out defending champion Omaha in 5 games in the opening round of the playoffs, a feat no team has been able to accomplish in over 3 seasons. The Fug Nuts have some of the best pitching in the league, with Kirt Hooper having an amazing season, but Davey Silva of Wichita is a Cy Young favorite as well, and the Wankers talented bats are very good when hot. Lars is having trouble deciding, as both teams are registering off the charts ratings in terms Scoville Units. Ultimately though Lars has a tough time picking against a team that took out the 3 time defending champs.
Prediction: Wichita in 5

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dean Hernandez Considering Name Change to "Benjamin"

Cortez Mack - Cobb Times Herald

In what is shaping up to be the most interesting offseason in Cobb history, principle player Dean Hernandez was weighing his options for the future. The three time Cy Young winning SP is a free agent at the end of the season, and is looking to cash in on a paycheck the likes of which haven't been seen since Phillip Brown and GM bigdaddysal. Even though Hernandez's Pawtucket G-Maniacs are the #2 seed in the AL playoffs and are looking at a tough matchup with Mexico City in the 2nd round, all the questions at the teams press conference were directed at Hernandez and his offseason plans.

Dean Hernandez
Age: 29B/T: S/R
Born: Detroit, MI
Position(s): P (SP1)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

"For the record, let me just state that I am here to pitch Pawtucket into the World Series, and that's that. But I won't hold it against you if questions are asked about where I will take my considerable talents next season," opened Hernandez. When asked about his refusal to sign with Pawtucket, Hernandez had this to say, "I have the utmost respect for my teammates and the management in Pawtucket, but I think it's time that I took a look to see what I am worth on the open market. From what my agent is telling me, I am worth more than several 3rd world countries combined, plus Haiti, and well, that's a lot." He continued, "I have a chance to set myself up for life, and the life of my kids, and my grandkids, and 13 more generations after that because of my awesome pitching skills the likes of which the American League will never see again, so why wouldn't I take advantage?" That statement drew the several irritated looks from the Mexico City pitching staff at the next table, including the mustachioed wonder Eric Collins, who no doubt have a differing opinion.

When asked to give a rundown on his future team of employment, Hernandez gave brief opinions of the known contenders for his services.

On Philadelphia: "What can I say about Philadelphia that hasn't already been said about the nation of Afghanistan? But if they can whip out the bread, I'll suffer the crappy fans and lack of run support that the management seems to favor in their teams. Hell with me they might actually make the playoffs!"

On Boston: "I've already proven I can dominate in New England and in every other AL East market. I would like to stay in the AL East so I can continue dominating all of the batters who have come to loathe my name the last five seasons. Boston is a regular World Series contender, which I was not in Pawtucket, and with them I might actually be able to be on a team that beats Cleveland and their insidious GM pieo."

On Cleveland: "Why not, if they give me the money? Of course if I were to sign with them I would need to also sign 120 million dollars worth of doctors because I would probably throw my arm off carrying the staff they way that team uses up its pitchers. Of course then I would make the World Series, which I haven't been able to do since I anchored a championship team in Columbus in season 5."

On Kansas City: "What, are you kidding me?"

On any National League team: "The National League intrigues me, it would be great to show how I can own the supposed NL elite such as Kaz Ong, Vance Weaver, Kirt Hooper, and the Syracuse staff on a daily basis. Bring it on, as long as you also bring the Benjamins!"

On Pawtucket: "Look, I think we all know the answer to this one. It's been a great run here, and I look forward to carrying this team as far as I can, but really, it's not like we are getting any younger here, and I need to go to where I can win a title, while being paid 12o million with a 10 million signing bonus."

When asked what he plans on doing with all of his money, Hernandez pulled out a gilt 3 ring binder stacked with plans. "See this binder? Each page is something I am going to do with my money. Page one has my new Bentley, page 2 my new mansion, page 3 my new fishing pole, page 4 my new 3rd world country, page 5 has Bentleys for my posse, etc... I'll make this available to the media after the press conference," said Hernandez.

At that point a visibly irritated Pawtucket GM geltzjg pulled the plug on his star pitchers microphone, and called an end to the press conference. "If you want to ask this media whore any more questions, you can do it after the season is over. In the meantime I'm going to throw his arm of just out of spite," intoned the angry GM.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Season 12 Playoff Preview - Wildcard Round

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

For a while there Lars thought he was going to have to predict the unpredictable, Atlanta, Chicago, and Philadelphia in the playoffs. But then karma righted itself and all was well with the world, bringing back the usual suspects for another go at Omaha and Cobb World Series title.

American League

#5 Boston Freedom (89-73) at #4Nashville Rebel Riders (84-78)
Overview: This is a matchup of a team in its prime (Boston) vs. a team on the decline (Nashville). Nashville just managed to squeak into the playoffs on the last day, crushing the hopes of several long suffering franchises in Cobb World. They got there by overcoming a miserable start of the season with the help of some call ups from the minors. Unfortunately the management forgot to add one of them to the playoff roster. Nashville needs their pitching to be much better than it was during the regular season if they have a hope of defeating Boston, a two time World Series champ which has made the playoffs in all but one season thus far in Cobb World. The Boston lineup doesn't have a lot of power, but they manufacture runs as well as anybody, and thier pitching is solid, especially ace Alfonso Vega, who had a monster year. Ultimately Lars thinks experience triumphs last day heroics.
Prediction: Boston in 4

#6 Mexico City Diablos Rojos (84-78) vs. #3 Anaheim Sharks (94-68)
Overview: This is a matchup of a team with a young pitching staff and aging lineup in Mexico City vs. a team with a young lineup and aging pitching staff in Anaheim. Anaheim was rock solid yet again in the regular season, behind the duo of Kory Arnold and Sammy Bennett in the lineup, while veteran SP J.T. Kydd posted a 19-8 record to lead the rotation. Mexico city leaned heavily on Sarma O'Connor and Hades Booker in the lineup, and a trio of young pitchers led by the mustachioed maestro Eric Collins. Lars thinks that on paper these teams are equal, but Anaheim just seems to have a knack for winning, while the Diablos Rojos inexplicably struggled this season and just barely made the playoffs.
Prediction: Anaheim in 4

National League

#5 Sioux Falls Corn Cleats (102-60) vs. #4 Richmond Cohibas (94-68)
Overview: The Cohibas proved that last seasons division title was no fluke, as they improved on their record by an astonishing 19 games and owned the NL South by all accounts. Their reward is a Sioux Falls team that posted the 3rd best record in Cobb World, and is a wildcard only because Fargo won 20 of their last 21 games to take the NL North. The Cohibas have a nasty lineup, with talented players starting and riding the pine, and have power at multiple positions. The pitching, which was traditionally a weak spot for Richmond, has improved dramatically, making them a much tougher out. Sioux Falls brings back the same formula that won their division last season, a top 5 pitching staff with one of the most loaded offenses in the league, which finished only 2nd to Fargo in home runs this season. Richmond made a run last season and upset the #1 seeded Syracuse Beagles, and look to take out another top team this year, but Lars thinks that the pitching for Sioux Falls should be enough to tame the Cohibas, and the power potential of the Corn Cleat lineup should make the difference.
Prediction: Sioux Falls in 5

#6 Wichita Wankers (92-70) vs. #3 Omaha Sluggers (99-63)
Overview: The Wankers were dead in the water at the all star break, but somehow managed to right the ship and paddle upstream to a wildcard berth, dashing the hopes of the long suffering Atlanta franchise, but elating the Wichita fans. Their reward for such an improbable comeback is the right to face the 3 time defending champion Omaha Sluggers. The Sluggers faded a little bit at the end of the season, losing out on a bye, but are still one of the most dangerous teams in the league. In a short series their pitching staff led by perennial Cy Young favorite King Kaz Ong can dismantle even the best of teams. The only pitcher who can stand toe to toe with the Omaha staff for the Wankers is Davey Silva, who produced another masterful regular season. He'll have to be on top of his game if Wichita is to stand a chance. But Lars thinks that until they actually lose a series, he'll keep picking the Sluggers.
Prediction: Omaha in 4